Judas Priest's Rob Halford Privately Battled Cancer During Pandemic | Revolver

Judas Priest's Rob Halford Privately Battled Cancer During Pandemic

Metal God was diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer in 2020 and early 2021
rob Halford judas priest SHINN, Travis Shinn; grooming by Morgan Teresa
photograph by Travis Shinn; grooming by Morgan Teresa

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has revealed that he privately battled cancer during the pandemic. In a new interview with Heavy Consequence, the 70-year-old Metal God casually mentioned that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the spring of 2020 but is thankfully now in remission. 

"I had my little cancer battle a year ago, which I got through and that's in remission now, thank God," Halford said in the middle of an interview that was intended to focus on his band's 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music box set. Up until this point, he hadn't publicly said a word about his illness. 

"That happened while we were all locked down," he explained. "So things happen for a reason as far as time sequence of events. I have nothing but gratitude to be at this point in my life, still doing what I love the most."

As it turns out, Halford went into detail about being diagnosed with and treated for cancer in the newly-updated version of his 2020 memoir, Confess. According to passages transcribed by Heavy Consequence, Halford said that he was experiencing symptoms as far back as 2017, and the diagnosis came after extensive testing.

"How did I feel?" he wrote in the memoir. "I felt a combination of shock, horror, and oddly, relief — at least now I know!…'Am I going to die?' It was all I could think of. I know blokes who've died of prostate cancer. 'No, you're not going to die, Rob,' said Dr. Ali."

Rather than choosing radiation therapy to remove the cancer, Halford opted for prostatectomy surgery that went down on July 5th, 2020, and was successful. Sadly, the cancer returned to his prostate bed in early 2020, but was promptly removed with radiation in April and May so that he was all-clear by the time he visited his English family in June. 

As if that wasn't trying enough, he also had his appendix removed in this period after a tumor was found on it. 

"It's been a draining year, I can't deny it, but I'm delighted to have come through it," Halford wrote. "I feel like I've had the most thorough MOT that a Metal God can have."

He said that he barely spoke of the cancer to anyone other than family members and his partner, Thomas, but that he found the strength to power through his darkest times after seeing kids who were struggling with similar circumstances in a commercial for the Phoenix Children's Hospital. 

"I was getting proper mardy [British slang for sulky] and wallowing in my anger," he wrote. "[But the commercial] showed kids with cancer. Some only babies. They were lying there, with tubes coming out of them, fighting for their lives. They didn't know what was going on…It made me feel totally ashamed of myself; Rob, how dare you be so selfish? And from that second, I change my entire mental attitude towards my disease."

Halford isn't the only member of Judas Priest who's recently dealt with serious health problems. Late last month, guitarist Richie Faulkner was hospitalized after suffering a ruptured aorta on stage, resulting in more than 10 hours of open-heart surgery that he thankfully survived and is now healing from in his Nashville home. 

Send all the good vibes you have to team Priest.